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SEC Power Rankings: Week 7

October, 14, 2013
10/14/13
9:15
AM ET
The SEC East is like the Wild West, while Alabama is still in control of the West. Also, eight teams from the SEC are ranked in the AP poll. What a fun conference:

1. Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC; last week: 1): Twitter was ablaze with tweets concerning Alabama's slow start at Kentucky. That worry quickly left after the Crimson Tide scored 31 consecutive points in the first half and cruised to a 48-7 win. Alabama isn't perfect, but it still has a hold on the SEC and is still the country's top team.

2. Texas A&M (5-1, 2-1 SEC; LW: 3): The Aggies certainly don't have much of a defense, but it doesn't really matter with Johnny Manziel running the show. For the second consecutive year, Manziel led a come-from-behind, game-winning drive against Ole Miss in Oxford. Not even a freak knee injury could slow him down. As long as he's making defenses look silly, the Aggies are a title contender.

3. LSU (6-1, 3-1 SEC; LW: 4): So there's that LSU defense we know and love. After some questionable early play, the Tigers defense held Florida to six points and just 240 yards of offense. With relentless pressure from the LSU defense, Florida's offense wilted inside of Tiger Stadium. LSU's offense wasn't great, but running back Jeremy Hill rushed for 121 yards against the nation's No. 1 rush defense.

4. Missouri (6-0, 2-0 SEC; LW: 7): Yeah, we all saw this one coming. These Tigers are undefeated and have the SEC's second-hottest offense behind Texas A&M. Mizzou strutted into Athens over the weekend and walked out with a win and their chests puffed out after a 41-26 win. The question now is if the Tigers can keep their momentum with quarterback James Franklin sidelined with a shoulder injury. It's Maty Mauk time in Columbia.

5. Georgia (4-2, 3-1 SEC; LW: 2): The Bulldogs defense struggled in the first half against Mizzou, but offensive mistakes really cost Georgia against the Tigers. Georgia was banged up on both sides of the ball and just didn't have the offensive star power around Aaron Murray to make a run late. It has been a rough week for the state of Georgia in the world of sports, and an unhealthy Bulldogs team is really hurting heading into its trip to Vanderbilt.

6. South Carolina (5-1, 3-1 SEC; LW: 6): Like LSU, we finally saw a balanced, solid defensive performance in a big game from the Gamecocks. Arkansas' running game churned out more than 200 yards, but the Gamecocks shut down the Hogs passing game, allowing just 30 yards on 4-of-13 passing. Connor Shaw continues to prove that he's made out of titanium and Mike Davis has rushed for 100-plus yards in five of six games.

7. Florida (4-2, 3-1 SEC; LW: 5): The Gators just couldn't get anything going on offense in Baton Rouge. Quarterback Tyler Murphy looked bewildered against LSU's blitz, and the offensive line crumbled under pressure. The offense averaged just 3.5 yards per play. The defense gave up some big plays, but held Zach Mettenberger to just 152 yards and a QBR of 46.7. No one would have blamed Florida's defense if it didn't allow the offense on the plane home Saturday.

8. Auburn (5-1, 2-1 SEC; LW: 8): No, the Tigers weren't playing hefty competition over the weekend, but this team is getting pretty fun to watch. Even without starting quarterback Nick Marshall, the Tigers registered 712 yards behind Jeremy Johnson in their 62-3 win over Western Carolina. Also, 511 of those yards came on the ground. Watch out for these Tigers.

9. Ole Miss (3-3, 1-3 SEC; LW: 9): How do you not run the ball on your final possession with Johnny Football standing on the other sideline? You can't give Manziel time to work with, and after the Rebels threw three straight incomplete passes on their last drive, Manziel was given 2:33 seconds to drive and win the game. He did, and the Rebels, who had their defense gashed, lost their third straight game.

10. Vanderbilt (3-3, 0-3 SEC; LW: 10): The Commodores were off this weekend, so this team got an extra week to work out some of those defensive kinks. They'll need everything to be ironed out with a frustrated Georgia team heading to town. Keep an eye on receiver Jordan Matthews. He has had a stellar start to the year and leads the SEC with 47 receptions and is third with 709 yards.

11. Tennessee (3-3, 0-2 SEC; LW: 12): The Vols were off, but they moved up because of what happened while they were hanging out on the couch this weekend. Plus, almost beating Georgia two weeks ago was pretty impressive. This team still has a long way to go before it's truly competitive in the SEC, but the performance against Georgia might give the Vols some nice momentum for the rest of the season.

12. Mississippi State (3-3, 0-2 SEC; LW: 13): The Bulldogs got quite the scare at home against Bowling Green. With a two-headed quarterback attack of Tyler Russell and Dak Prescott, Mississippi State slipped by the Falcons 21-20. It certainly wasn't pretty, but it was a must-win for the Bulldogs as they look to make it to the postseason. The Bulldogs are off this week, which is probably a good thing, as this team looks to regroup after an up-and-down first half of the season.

13. Arkansas (3-4, 0-3 SEC; LW: 11): Picking the Razorbacks to pull the upset over South Carolina was a major mental lapse on my part. The passing game was nonexistent against the Gamecocks and the defense was trampled on. This team can run the ball, but it just doesn't have an adequate passing game right now to make a real push in Bret Bielema's first season.

14. Kentucky (1-5, 0-3 SEC; LW: 14): The Wildcats had some fight early against Alabama, but then the talent difference put the Wildcats back in their place. Coach Mark Stoops said his team doesn't plan to cave and will be competitive from here on out. It has been a rough first year for Stoops, but attitude is everything when it comes to building.

ACC Power Rankings: Week 7

October, 14, 2013
10/14/13
9:00
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The middle of the league is just a tad bit clustered.

1. Clemson (6-0, 4-0; LW: No. 1). The Tigers sputtered offensively in a close call against Boston College, so there are some problems that have to be fixed headed into the major ACC showdown against Florida State on Saturday. The good news for Clemson fans is the defense continues to improve and has become a strength.

2. Florida State (5-0, 3-0; LW: No. 2). The Seminoles had the benefit of getting an extra week to prepare for Clemson. But a difficult challenge still awaits. This team has not won in Death Valley since 2001, and Clemson has lost only two ACC home games under Dabo Swinney.

3. Miami (5-0, 1-0; LW: No. 3). The Canes moved up into the Top 10 for the first time since 2009 despite being off, thanks to a few upsets across the country. They face a big test Thursday night against a UNC team desperate to keep its bowl hopes alive. The game marks the first outside the state of Florida for Miami this season. The Canes are just 1-4 all-time at Kenan Stadium.

4. Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0; LW: No. 4). The Hokies needed a win in the final game of the regular season last year to become bowl eligible. What a difference a year makes. Virginia Tech reeled off its sixth consecutive win on Saturday, 19-9 over Pitt, and is now guaranteed a bowl game. There is little doubt the Coastal is a two-team race between the Canes and Hokies.

5. Maryland (5-1, 1-1; LW: No. 6). Despite missing quarterback C.J. Brown, the Terps found a way to bounce back from a disheartening loss to beat Virginia. Barely. But Maryland will take any win it can get. Backup quarterback Caleb Rowe threw for a career-high 322 yards and running back Brandon Ross had a career-high 169 yards of total offense.

6. Pitt (3-2, 2-2; LW: No. 5). Now the real fun begins -- trying to pick and choose the order among teams 6-12. The Panthers looked terrible in their loss to Virginia Tech. But Virginia Tech's D has a way of doing that to teams. Pitt does own two league wins, more than the next four teams on our list. That includes one over Duke.

7. Duke (4-2, 0-2; LW: No. 10). The Blue Devils do not have a league win yet, but they do have a 4-0 record in nonconference play and looked like a different team with Anthony Boone at quarterback in a dominant 35-7 win over Navy. They have a winnable game this weekend against Virginia. Given the remaining teams on the schedule, Duke should win at least two more.

8. Syracuse (3-3; 1-1; LW: No. 12). The Orange impressed once again with their run game in a 24-10 win at NC State, their first ACC victory. Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley each went over 100 yards, something they each did in the bowl win last year. The passing game remains an issue as Terrel Hunt threw for 74 yards and had two interceptions.

9. Boston College (3-3; 1-2; LW: No. 9). The Eagles played Clemson and Florida State tough this year, but coach Steve Addazio takes little solace in moral victories. Still, Boston College has shown it is not a walkover opponent any longer. Its physical brand of football should keep the Eagles in contention for a bowl spot in the second half of the season.

10. Wake Forest (3-3, 1-2; LW: No. 11). The Deacs also own a win over NC State the way Syracuse does. But they lost to Boston College and have a worse nonconference loss than the teams ranked ahead. Wake Forest was off this week and has a winnable game Saturday at home against Maryland.

11. Georgia Tech (3-3, 2-2; LW: No. 7). While the Jackets do have two league wins, they have dropped three in a row and have looked completely discombobulated on both offense and defense in the past two. If the Jackets cannot beat Syracuse this Saturday, their bowl streak might be in serious jeopardy.

12. NC State (3-3, 0-3; LW: No. 8). We don’t think many people expected the Wolfpack to be winless in ACC play at this point, but that is where they are after a second consecutive loss. Both, against Wake Forest and Syracuse, were winnable games. But injuries to key starters have really taken a toll on this team and it has shown.

13. North Carolina (1-4, 0-2; LW: No. 13). The Tar Heels were off last week as they prepared to take on Miami. Coach Larry Fedora said last week he had “no doubt” this season was salvageable after the poor start. Well, if it is going to be saved, it has to start Thursday night with an upset win over the Canes.

14. Virginia (2-4, 0-2; LW: No. 14). The Hoos have one more win than North Carolina, but they have lost three straight and have had just about everything go wrong for them in that span. The latest was a heartbreaking missed field goal to lose to the Terps. The defense, which started the season playing so well, has shown some cracks.

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 7

October, 14, 2013
10/14/13
9:00
AM ET
After a Red River upset, the power rankings have a new top two:

1. Baylor (5-0, 2-0 Big 12, last week 2): Kansas State coach Bill Snyder had the right game plan to slow Baylor. Run the ball, chew up clock, bottle up Lache Seastrunk, take away the quick passing attack and hope you can somehow survive Baylor’s vertical speed downfield. But that’s what makes the Bears so prolific. Take away the short stuff, and Bryce Petty will beat you deep with Tevin Reese & Co. Back off, and Baylor will tear you apart with quick passes and a heavy dose of Seastrunk with a side of Glasco Martin. K-State proved the Bears could be slowed. But can they be stopped?

2. Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0 Big 12, last week 3): In 2012, West Virginia was 5-0 when it traveled the 1,500 miles to Lubbock, Texas, where its season began to go the wrong direction. Can the Red Raiders avoid a similar fate against a likewise backloaded schedule? There’s reason to believe Tech is better equipped to do so than last year's Mountaineers. At the moment, the Red Raiders’ balanced offense claims four of the top eight receivers in the Big 12, while the defense has been tremendous at getting off the field on third down. The next two games, on the road at West Virginia and Oklahoma, will determine whether Tech is a contender or pretender. If the Tech quarterbacks keep spreading the ball around and the defense continues to buck up in key situations, it very well might be the former.

3. Texas (4-2, 3-0 Big 12, last week 5): The 1989 Longhorns and 1996 Sooners also pulled off big upsets in the Red River Rivalry. Both teams, however, went just 2-4 the rest of the season. The biggest question for Texas coming off its most impressive victory in four years is whether it can keep it going. At 3-0 in the Big 12 standings, the Longhorns have plenty to play for. If Texas keeps running its offense through running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown and its veteran offensive line, and defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed keep wreaking havoc, it’s not unthinkable that Texas could be playing for the Big 12 title in Waco, Texas, on Dec. 7.

4. Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12, last week 1): Quarterback Blake Bell was completely off in his first Red River start, but he didn’t get a lot of help from Josh Heupel, either. The offensive coordinator kept Oklahoma’s designed quarterback running plays that had been so effective on the shelf even though Texas had been vulnerable all year to stopping the quarterback run game. While Texas finally elected to ride Gray in the running game, the Sooners are the ones that now seem confused about who to ride. Is it Brennan Clay? Damien Williams? True freshman Keith Ford? The good news is that Bob Stoops is 14-0 the game after Texas, with an average winning margin of 27 points; OU visits Kansas on Saturday, too. But if the Sooners don’t figure out who they are offensively soon, they could be staring down yet another second-half swoon.

5. Oklahoma State (4-1, 1-1 Big 12, last week 4): An interesting question to think about: Had he not transferred to Illinois, would Wes Lunt be Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback this weekend against TCU? My hunch is he would. Spotty downfield passing is restricting the potential of this Cowboys offense, which still has the playmakers at receiver to form the the basis of a prolific attack. Problem is, J.W. Walsh can’t consistently get them the ball. And now the best pass defense in the conference comes to town. If the Cowboys sputter again, they’ll have to give serious thought to giving Clint Chelf another shot to open up an offense that has looked shockingly mediocre against Big 12 competition.

6. TCU (3-3, 1-2 Big 12, last week 6): Announced attendance of Saturday’s home game against Kansas was almost 42,000. But based on photos taken of the stands, it looked like there was less than half that. As one of the preseason favorites, the Horned Frogs carried plenty of hype into the season. But after three early-season losses, apparently the excitement surrounding the program for this season has completely evaporated. It might be too soon, however, to give up on TCU. Nobody has played a tougher schedule thus far. And few teams have been bit harder by the injury bug. If the Frogs can pull off the upset in Stillwater, Okla., they could fight their way back into the Big 12 race, especially if quarterback Casey Pachall can return to the field from a broken forearm before month’s end.

7. West Virginia (3-3, 1-2 Big 12, last week 7): The West Virginia defense has had a week to recover from the TKO it suffered in Waco. No matter who Dana Holgorsen goes with at quarterback this week, the Mountaineers’ best chance of getting bowl eligible is with solid defense. But is this a solid defense? It’s hard to tell. The Mountaineers have had two good defensive performances (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State) and two bad ones (Maryland, Baylor). What West Virginia does against Texas Tech this weekend will be revealing about where this defense really is.

8. Kansas State (2-4, 0-3 Big 12, last week 8): The Wildcats have been in every game, and yet don’t have much to show from it. This still could be a bowl team, however. Getting starting receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson back from injury after the open week would be a boost. But the real key will be limiting turnovers. The Wildcats are last in the Big 12 in turnover margin, a year after they led the conference in the category. If quarterback Daniel Sams can take better care of the ball, K-State is good enough and well coached enough to get to six wins despite the tough start.

9. Iowa State (1-4, 0-2 Big 12, last week 9): With a bounce here or there, the Cyclones could easily be 2-0 in the conference. This young team is making plays, but it still has to figure out how to win games in the fourth quarter. Now, the Cyclones find themselves in a tough spot this week. They face a Baylor offense looking to prove it’s better than it showed over the weekend. The Bears also haven’t forgotten about losing in Ames, Iowa, last year. If Iowa State is still in the game at halftime, that will be a victory in and of itself.

10. Kansas (2-3, 0-2 Big 12, last week 10): You have to give it up to the Jayhawks for showing some fight at TCU. The early start, the paltry crowd, the loss of running back Tony Pierson -- there were many reasons for Kansas to mail it in. Instead, the Jayhawks took TCU to the brink and had the ball three different times in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game. The Jayhawks might not win a Big 12 game this season, but if they keep scrapping and clawing like they did Saturday, they'll have more chances.
Ohio State still sits atop the Power Rankings, but there has been a significant shake-up after the Buckeyes.

Wisconsin's impressive victory against lifeless Northwestern vaults the Badgers to No. 2, as we consider Gary Andersen's team the closest to Ohio State at this point in the season. Northwestern takes a significant tumble, and Michigan also falls after failing to pull off another escape against Penn State. Nebraska and Michigan State are taking care of business against weak competition, which helps both teams now but won't mean much when the schedule gets tougher in November.

Penn State makes a move in a positive direction following its dramatic win against Michigan in four overtimes. The bottom of the rankings holds steady as most teams were off.

Here's one last look at the Week 6 rankings.

Week 7 rankings in three, two, one …

1. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten; last week: 1): After two hard-fought victories to open Big Ten play, the unbeaten Buckeyes had a well-deserved week off. Their young defensive front seven is starting to blossom, which should help against Iowa's power run game on Saturday at The Shoe. Running back Carlos Hyde takes aim at an Iowa defense that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown. Ohio State is halfway to another perfect regular season.

2. Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1; last week: 3): The Badgers looked refreshed, recharged and exceptionally prepared for Northwestern following their open week. Wisconsin's defense completely flustered Northwestern, particularly on third down, where the Wildcats typically excel. Melvin Gordon did his thing and Wisconsin moved the ball despite playing without top receiver Jared Abbrederis for most of the game. The schedule is favorable the rest of the way and a 10-2 mark is hardly out of the question. Wisconsin visits Illinois this week.

3. Nebraska (5-1, 2-0; last week: 5): Credit Nebraska for handling its business against inferior competition and not even flirting with a loss for the second consecutive Big Ten game. The defense once again took a step forward as one-time Purdue recruit Randy Gregory had two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Backup quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. struggled, but he had plenty of help from the run game, led by Ameer Abdullah (126 rush yards, 1 TD). The Huskers once again are off this week, which should allow top signal-caller Taylor Martinez to heal from his toe injury.

4. Michigan State (5-1, 2-0; last week: 6): Defense always will be the Spartans' bread and butter, but Michigan State is capable of winning games with its offense. Sure, Indiana's defense isn't a great barometer, but Spartans fans have to be encouraged by quarterback Connor Cook, running back Jeremy Langford and a unit that seems to be gaining more confidence by the week. Like Nebraska, Michigan State is handling its business during a favorable stretch of the schedule, which continues this week against flailing Purdue.

5. Michigan (5-1, 1-1; last week: 2): The Wolverines twice had flirted with losing in their first five games, only to find a way to pull through. They nearly pulled off another escape at Penn State after a strong second half, but breakdowns in all three phases led to a crushing loss in four overtimes. The defense broke down at the end of regulation, the offense couldn't find the end zone in overtime and the normally reliable Brendan Gibbons missed three attempts (one was blocked). Michigan will need to grow up in a hurry to challenge for the Legends Division title.

6. Northwestern (4-2, 0-2; last week: 2): It's a four-spot drop for the Wildcats, and that might be kind after the egg they laid Saturday in Madison. Northwestern clearly had a hangover from the Ohio State game, although there are some troubling trends on offense, namely the inability to covert manageable third downs, which has been a hallmark of past Wildcats teams. The injuries are piling up for Pat Fitzgerald's crew, as Venric Mark (ankle) barely played and Kain Colter (ankle) didn't do much at quarterback. Northwestern really needs to get well this week against Minnesota.

7. Penn State (4-2, 1-1; last week: 9): What do we make of Bill O'Brien's Lions? A week after Penn State's first loss to Indiana -- by 20 points, no less -- the Lions rebounded to outlast Michigan 43-40 in a four-overtime thriller. O'Brien played to win while Michigan's coaches went conservative, and freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg rebounded from some mistakes to lead the game-tying touchdown drive at the end of regulation. This Penn State team isn't as good as its predecessor, but it exhibits the same type of resilience and toughness. Penn State gets a well-deserved week off before heading to Ohio State.

8. Iowa (4-2, 1-1; last week: 7): The open week arrived at a good time for Iowa, which came out of the Michigan State loss with several injuries, although none of the long-term variety. The Hawkeyes need to reboot Mark Weisman and the run game after being shut down by the Spartans. Iowa's defense faces its first major test of the season in Ohio State, which will try to stretch the field. The Hawkeyes last won in Columbus in 1991.

9. Indiana (3-3, 1-1; last week: 8): The inconsistency that has plagued Indiana through the first half of the season showed up Saturday against Michigan State. The offense had more success against Michigan State's venerated defense than most opponents but still left points on the field. Indiana's defense, meanwhile, took a step back as the Spartans had success both on the ground and through the air. The Hoosiers' quarterback situation took another turn as Tre Roberson outperformed Nate Sudfeld. IU heads back to the Mitten State this week to face Michigan.

10. Illinois (3-2, 0-1; last week: 10): The Illini didn't play for the second time in four weeks after struggling on both sides of the ball at Nebraska. If Tim Beckman's squad intends to go bowling, it might need a home upset victory in the next two weeks as it hosts Wisconsin and then Michigan State. Illinois hopes to get defensive lineman Teko Powell back from injury before facing the dominant Wisconsin rush attack. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase must rebound after completing only 50 percent of his passes against Nebraska.

11. Minnesota (4-2, 0-2; last week: 11): Adversity continues for the Gophers as head coach Jerry Kill has taken a leave of absence as he tries to get his epilepsy under control. Although Minnesota assistants and players know how to adjust without Kill, it doesn't make the situation much easier. The big on-field concern for the Gophers is the schedule, which doesn't get any easier this week against Northwestern. The Gophers are still looking for more explosiveness on offense.

12. Purdue (1-5, 0-2; last week: 12): There will be better days ahead for Danny Etling and the Boilers, but it's very ugly right now. Purdue never challenged Nebraska at Ross-Ade Stadium, and the Boilers' problems on offense clearly go beyond the quarterback position as Etling couldn't get much going. Purdue didn't cross midfield until the fourth quarter. The defense had no answers for Nebraska, which piled up 435 yards. This is a really bad football team, folks, and things don't get easier with Michigan State and Ohio State to follow.

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 7

October, 14, 2013
10/14/13
9:00
AM ET
If you don't like where you are in the Power Rankings, play better.

See last week's Power Rankings here.

1. Oregon: The Ducks not only got their signature victory over a quality ranked foe, they actually did so by playing a relevant fourth quarter. That the 10th consecutive win over Washington ended up being a 10th consecutive blowout only solidifies their standing here.

2. UCLA: The Bruins, after impressively whipping California, are the conference's only other unbeaten, top-10 team after Stanford was upset at Utah. The Bruins can make a major statement if they go on the road and hand the Cardinal a second loss this season.

3. Stanford: While the power rankings in large part react to the week that was, they also strongly consider the totality of the season. While that was a tough loss at Utah, keep in mind the Cardinal have three quality Pac-12 wins: Arizona State, Washington State and Washington.

4. Washington: The Huskies have lost consecutive games on the road to top-five foes in the Cardinal and Ducks. There's no shame in that. But now they need to pick up a quality road win. And so we have the visit to Arizona State on Saturday, a critical game for both.

5. Oregon State: The Beavers have won five in a row since they opened with an upset loss to Eastern Washington. While you never say never, they should improve to 6-1 at California on Saturday, and that might be enough to get them back into the national polls. Thereafter, though, the schedule ramps up considerably.

6. Utah: Funny thing with Utah's first two years in the Pac-12: We thought the Utes got lucky not playing Stanford and Oregon in their division. The win over the Cardinal might be a turning point for Utah in the conference. Or the Utes might lose at Arizona on Saturday and come back to earth.

7. Arizona State: The Sun Devils are a much better team at home, and the Huskies have struggled on the road under coach Steve Sarkisian. So Saturday sets up for Arizona State to make its own statement in the Pac-12 pecking order. A victory also probably returns the Sun Devils to the national rankings.

8. Washington State: Things fell apart at home against Oregon State quickly, as a highly competitive game became a blowout loss in the fourth quarter. Things don't get any easier this weekend, as a visit to Oregon typically isn't much fun. Or is it a great upset opportunity?

9. USC: If Ed Orgeron wants to show everyone what his leadership means at USC, he could lead the Trojans to a win at Notre Dame. Beat the Fighting Irish, and there will be more than a few folks who, at least tentatively, ask, "What about Ed?"

10. Arizona: The Wildcats face three consecutive winnable games starting with a visit from Utah. They become bowl eligible with three more wins and could work their way back into the South Division picture. The Utah game feels like a major measuring stick -- for both teams.

11. Colorado: Reality has set in for the Buffaloes. The question now is whether a QB change is at hand.

12. California: California showed some fight against UCLA. But this obviously is an outmanned team going through schematic growing pains on both sides of the ball.

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